Bill's Blog U.P.C Symbols in an On-Line World
U.P.C. Symbols in an On-Line World
What is the future of retail U.P.C. barcode symbols and scanners in an increasingly on-line world? Does the value of one of the most impactful identification schemes ever developed have a future in the point, click, and enter your credit card world? Upon the arrival of the U.P.C., market data became available from the market itself, replacing early statistical sample tests. But does a retail symbol have relevance in this on-line world?
I'm sure it does. Think creatively. Just as few understood back at its establishment just how much the application of the barcode identification would change retailling, few may appreciate the new roles for the barcode symbol when the retail transaction takes place between a browser and the server.
The first role logically would be in fullfillment. On-line retailers are forced to handle in their warehouses small quantities and single units of products where previously they moved case lots to brick and mortar stores. Symbol scanners help identify the correct items in the selection process and help validate the proper mix of items for each order in the shipping area. Incorporating barcode symbol scanning into picking may reduce the cost of labor. Summaries of which products were picked by time period will help in the assignment of people to sections of the fulfillment areas. In fulfilling on-line orders, the U.P.C. barcode can help on-line vendors to compete more responsively. It may facilitate tracking which employee processed which order. This can be useful for internal measurements and for external recognition and marketing, e.g. "Your order was checked by Bob."
On-line consumer services will become practical when customers using the ubiquitous cell-phone camera can scan the item to order a replacement item or part for an item. It's easy to imagine consumer services that spring up where consumers can send an image of the barcode symbol and get a listing of on-line sites that have the item in stock with its current price. I suppose one can also imagine groups of on-line retailers that provide a similar service but within a select group of on-line outlets.
Even in the age of point and click, the barcode symbol has a contribution to make. And of course, all those brick and mortar stores will not go away overnight.
-- Bill Selmeier